jpReporter Ethan Stewart at The Santa Barbara Independent has a front page story this week on the life of John Palminteri and there is an event being held downtown Thursday, July 24th, in his honor.

“JP” has been a big supporter of this blog since it launched in 2007 and supplies The Restaurant Guy with a never ending stream of news tips, that often become my lead story. I always try to return the favor and send news his way but 9 out of 10 times he already knows about it.

I first met Palminteri during the 2005 La Conchita landslide while he was, of course, covering the story. At the time I was running a web site to help raise funds for survivors and families of the victims. When I approached him to talk about the tragedy I was surprised by how nice he was, even while the cameras were turned off, and by how deeply the events had affected him. I had wrongly assumed that reporting stories was just a job for him, and that someone so well-known would be dismissive of people around him. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have had the good fortune of being invited to many events with JP and repeatedly see him take a genuine interest in people around him. When an event is over, and most people have left, John is invariably still there talking to, and listening to, locals young and old.

Come have a drink and share a laugh with Santa Barbara’s most beloved newsman. The Independent will be hosting a “Primetime” Happy Hour today, July 24, at one of the Palm’s favorite haunts, Joe’s Café. The fun starts at 6 p.m. at 536 State Street.

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140724b-himialayan-kitchenReader Brendan let me know that a new restaurant named Himalayan Kitchen, serving Nepalese, Indian and Tibetan cuisine, has opened at 431 State Street, the former home of All India Café. The eatery offers a large vegetarian selection along with a variety of lamb, seafood, chicken and Yak dishes. Been craving Yak dumplings? Your dreams have come true.

I sat down with owner Karma Bhote who told me that he, along with partner and Executive Chef Karma Tenzing Bhotia operate the award winning Tibet Nepal House of Pasadena, and Himalayan Kitchen locations in both Santa Barbara and Durango, Colorado. Bhote is from the remote village of Chyamtang in Northeast Nepal near the Tibetan border.

Himalayan Kitchen offers a very large menu so I asked Bhote if he could recommend some specific dishes. From the Starters menu he suggested you try the Mo-mo. The most popular dish for Nepalese and Tibetans, momos (steamed dumplings) are filled with your choice of vegetable, chicken or lamb, and served with achaar.

From the Nepalese Daal Bhaat section of the menu Bhote recommends the combination plate Daal-Bhaat Tarkaari, a Nepalese traditional dish eaten by 90% of the population, which includes lentils, rice and curry.

From Chef Karma’s Specialties Bhote suggested you try the Mixed Grill Platter which is a feast of chicken breast, drumstick, and thigh, along with lamb and shrimp, seasoned with a variety of marinades overnight and then roasted in a tandoor. He also recommends the Kathmandu Sekuwa (chicken, mint, cilantro, ginger, garlic, and yogurt) and Sherpa Stew (chicken, lamb, vegetables, ginger, garlic, timboor and rice) which is popular in the high altitude regions.

The Vegetarian menu includes 22 dishes and Bhote highlighted Indian favorites including Saag Paneer (spinach, cheese, celery, mushroom, cilantro and jalapeño chili), Motor Paneer (peas, cheese, onion and fenugreek) and Paneer Masala (cheese, onion, tomato and fenugreek), both popular in India. A Nepalese favorite is the Vegetable Sekuwas (vegetable skewers marinated in yogurt sauce and roasted in a tandoor oven). Tse Phing is a Tibetan favorite featuring pan-fried mung bean noodles, sautéed with mushroom, cabbage, carrot, celery and onion.

I am told that Yak meat is new for Santa Barbara and Bhote mentioned Yakisha Thenthuk (authentic Tibtan Yak dish cooked with radish, potato, pasta, onion, celery, timboor, ginger, garlic amd chili) and Yaksha Mo-Mo (Tibetan steamed dumplings stuffed with ground Yak seasoned with onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro and served momo achaar).

Kheer is a traditional Nepalese dessert. Kheer is a South Asian rice pudding made by boiling rice, broken wheat, or vermicelli with milk and sugar; it is flavored with almonds, walnuts and raisins.

Bhote’s partner, Chef Karma Tenzing Bhotia, was born and raised in the remote Mt. Makalu region of northeast Nepal and has traveled extensively throughout the Himalayas. His travels helped him to learn the nuances of Himalayan cooking; a cuisine that utilizes black and white cardamon, jimbu, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, star anis, timboor, chili, turmeric, saffron, sesame and mustard seed. Bhotia spent several years as a chef in Austria, enabling him to combine the bold flavors from his homeland of Nepal with the subtleties of European cuisine. Karma uses his expertise in Himalayan and European cooking along with fresh herbs and spices to create unique flavors in every dish.

Gourmet lunch buffet is served daily 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and Happy Hours are from 3 – 5 p.m. The dinner menu is served Sunday – Thursday from 5 – 10 p.m. and from 5 – 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Himalayan Kitchen offers free delivery within 4 miles with a minimum order of $30. Catering is available. For more information call 882-1000 or visit

140724a-himialayan-kitchenA FAMILY AFFAIR: Son Tenzing Bhote, along with husband and wife team Diki and Karma Bhote have opened a new State Street restaurant offering Himalayan cuisine.



The 41st annual Greek Festival is being held Saturday and Sunday July 26-27 at Oak Park in Santa Barbara. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. you can enjoy live Greek music, authentic Greek food, traditional Greek folk dancing, a kid’s fun zone, homemade Greek pastries and the Agora marketplace with art & jewelry. Admission is free.



Max’s restaurant at 3514 State Street is celebrating their 30th anniversary July 22 – 27. Breakfast specials are available at 1984 prices: July 22, cup of coffee 99 cents; July 23, short stack of pancakes $1.99; July 24, any omelet $5.99. A special Italian dinner will be held on July 25 for $60 plus tax/tip. On July 27th Max’s will hold an open house celebration from 5-8 p.m.

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140717-benchmark-logo“A simple and honest product with a genuine commitment to service,” is the business mantra of a new downtown dining destination.

Reader Steve tells me that the Bennett family, who operate a variety of local restaurants including Brophy Bros. at the harbor, is having a soft opening today for Benchmark Eatery at 1201 State Street, the former home of State & A and Maggie’s. Benchmark Eatery offers a variety of choices on the menu including burgers, flatbread pizzas and vegetarian options.

“I am going to return the space to a casual eatery with high quality, value driven food and generous drinks,” says owner John Bennett. “Our menu will focus on casual American fare with local relevance. Our price point will be similar to Brophy’s allowing everyone to join in on the experience. I am confident we will be introducing something new to the area ultimately bringing more traffic to surrounding businesses.”

In addition to Benchmark Eatery, The Bennett family operates On the Alley at the harbor, the Cliff Room on the Mesa, Arch Rock Fish downtown and is remodeling Farmer Boy restaurant uptown. They plan to open a second location for On the Alley in Goleta in or around Camino Real Marketplace, and will be launching a new restaurant in 2015 inside Santa Barbara Inn, 901 E. Cabrillo Boulevard, which is currently being remodeled.




This just in from reader Matt: “John, I saw some work happening in the recently closed Magic Pita Cafe at 5 W. Haley Street so I stopped and asked the new owner what he was planning. I’m told it is a Taco & burger shop/stand.”

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On Wednesday, July 23rd at 6 p.m., Ken Brown, a pioneer winemaker in Santa Barbara County, will be offering a supper club at La Marina restaurant inside the Four Seasons Resort at the Biltmore. Enjoy Brown’s wines paired by Executive Chef Alessandro Cartumini and Chef Grant MacDonald. The cost is $110 for five courses—all wine, taxes and gratuity included. Confirm your reservation online or call 698-3426.

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On Saturday, July 19th from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The Center for Urban Agriculture at 598 North Fairview Avenue in Goleta is presenting the 2014 Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival. This all-ages experiential one-day festival celebrates the art of making traditionally fermented foods and beverages such as kimchi, kombucha, kefir, pickles, beer, sauerkraut, wine, cider, cultured vegetables, and sourdough bread, and empowers attendees to make these foods at home. For more information or to purchase tickets (adults $21.99, teen $6.24) visit Thanks to reader Don for the tip!

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SOhO at 1221 State Street, in Victoria Court, will be the site of a wine tasting offered by The Winehound. From noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 19th, there will be numerous wines plus hot appetizers, cheese and charcuterie to graze on. Tickets are $35.00 per person and must be purchased in advance. Call Winehound at 845-5247 to reserve. Tickets are not available through SOhO.

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From July 17 – 19 the California Wine Festival is being held at 236 E. Cabrillo Boulevard. Enjoy hundreds of California vintage wines plus gourmet foods samples and live music.

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Today is 7-11-14 which means you can go to any 7-Eleven and pick up a mini Slurpee for free.

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Reader Primetime let me know that Consumer Reports has ranked Santa Barbara-based Habit Burger Grill as the #1 burger in the nation. National news outlets like Business Insider have picked up the story about how “an obscure burger chain was just named the best in America.”




The 26th annual Santa Barbara French Festival returns to Oak Park, 300 W. Alamar Avenue this weekend to celebrate Bastille Day and all things French. Admission is free. Enjoy food, wine, mimosas, crepes, pastries, music, dance, the Poodles & Pals Parade and Femme Fatales Drag Revue.


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Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone is home to an eclectic community of local shops, businesses and restaurants. Amongst the bunch are some of SB most popular tasting rooms. Eight Funk Zone wineries have teamed with Night Out Presents to offer a tasting pass and additional discounts on in-store purchases. For $52.44, Funk Zone Tasting Pass buyers can enjoy a tasting at Carr Winery, Deep Sea Winery, Kalyra, Area 5.1, Fox Wine Co., Corks N Crowns, Kunin, and Anacapa Vintners (an $80 value). This limited-time pass is available for purchase now until August 24th, and available for use any time or date during the purchasing period, after which the pass expires. You can purchase a pass online.



This just in from reader Paul:

“Hi John, I talked to a worker at Del Taco in Ventura. She told me that two Del Taco’s were coming to SB. I didn’t get any details but thought I would mention it. One of the first groups I joined on Facebook when I signed up back in 2009 was named ‘I’d give my soul for a Del Taco in Santa Barbara.’ Yep, it actually existed.”



Rusty’s Pizza at 6025 Calle Real in Goleta, across from the Fairview Shopping Center, plans to move down the street to a Rusty’s-owned property at 5934 Calle Real, the former home of Takenoya sushi. The new building will receive dramatic façade improvements including a large tower and arching entrance way. A complete set of plans can be viewed online.




Papa John’s Pizza has opened at 5756 Calle Real in Goleta, immediately next door to Paloma Restaurant and Tequila Bar. “I have been local in Santa Barbara for more than 20 years now,” says store manager Asia Ashley. “I think more people feel comfortable knowing that such a huge name like Papa John’s has local people working on the inside. These aren’t people who have come from other states, or other places that we had to bring in to work here. They are all locally hired people. That’s usually a plus.”

Papa John’s lets you chose your own ingredients or pick from specialty pizzas including The Works, The Meats, John’s Favorite, Garden Fresh, Spicy Italian, Spinach Alfredo, BBQ Chicken Bacon, Hawaiian BBQ Chicken, Tuscan Six Cheese, Double Bacon 6-Cheese. Papa John’s owns or franchises approximately 4,200 restaurants in all 50 states and 35 countries. For more information visit or call 967-2421. Thanks to readers Cris, Cathy, Sunday and Glenn for the tips!

Left to right: store manager Asia Ashley, with co-workers Evan Chipman, Gabe Moreno and James Taylor inside the new Papa John’s Pizza at 5756 Calle Real in Goleta.



Reader Primetime says you can get a pancake stack today (July 8th) for 56 cents as part of IHOP‘s 56th birthday celebration.



A bartender at Miro restaurant at the Bacara Resort is entering a drink in a national contest sponsored by Restaurant Hospitality. Miro mixologist Nanette Rapuzzi has created a drink named “Ticket to Paradise,” inspired by Miro’s location on a bluff with breathtaking ocean views. Key ingredients: Hendricks Gin, St. Germain Eldelflower Liquor, fresh cucumbers muddled with agave nectar, and fresh squeezed lime juice. When asked what makes the cocktail special, Rapuzzi says: “The simplicity of the fresh ingredients. Super refreshing. It can be served over ice or up.”


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Edhat readers discuss the grand opening of Mesa Verde on the Mesa today.

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The Santa Barbara Independent’s 5th annual Sizzling Summer BBQ contest was held at Oak Park and food columnist George Yatchisin shares the results.

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The 26th annual Santa Barbara French Festival returns to Oak Park, 300 W. Alamar Avenue, July 12 and 13 to celebrate Bastille Day and all things French. Admission is free. Enjoy food, wine, mimosas, crepes, pastries, music, dance, the Poodles & Pals Parade and Femme Fatales Drag Revue. The 26th Annual Santa Barbara French Festival is a community event not to be missed. Each day the fun starts at 11:00 a.m. when the entertainment kicks off on three different stages and continues non-stop until 7:00 p.m. This event is brought to you by Center Stage Theater and Speaking of Stories, and is a fundraiser for them — so you can have a great time and benefit a good cause at the same time. For complete details on the performers, food, crafts, shopping and activities visit

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Max’s restaurant at 3514 State Street is celebrating their 30th anniversary July 22 – 27. Breakfast specials are available at 1984 prices: July 22, cup of coffee 99 cents; July 23, short stack of pancakes $1.99; July 24, any omelet $5.99. A special Italian dinner will be held on July 25 for $60 plus tax/tip. First Course: Italian cheese selection from C’est Cheese, wine pairing: glass of Prosecco. Second Course: Marinated Mushroom & Ripe Tomato “Caprese” and Speck-Wrapped Cantaloupe. Third Course: House Made Ravioli Ricotta e Spinaci in brown butter sage sauce. Fourth Course: Rack of Lamb Marinated in Fresh Rosemary & Garlic and pan-roasted Branzino with Mint & Almond Pesto with glazed summer squash. Fifth Course: Orange Mint Chocolate Chip Gelato with Fennel Cookie. On July 27th Max’s will hold an open house celebration from 5-8 p.m.



Join Hospice of Santa Barbara on Thursday, July 10th for Dia de las Comidas as three popular family-owned area restaurants open their doors and hearts in support of the organization’s Latino Family Services. Carlitos Café y Cantina in Santa Barbara, Cava Restaurant & Bar in Montecito and Dos Carlitos Restaurant & Tequila Bar in Santa Ynez will donate a portion of the day’s proceeds from all three restaurants to Hospice of Santa Barbara. “My family is proud to help increase the services provided to Latino families at Hospice of Santa Barbara,” said Carlos Lopez-Hollis, who owns and operates his family’s trio of restaurants.

Hospice of Santa Barbara offers its free professional counseling and care management services to more than 600 adults and 125 children every month who are experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness, or grieving the death of a loved one. They are also present on eight local middle and high school campuses as well as UCSB to work with children, teens and young adults who are grieving the loss of a loved one. For more information visit



On July 7th Chef Greg Arnold will be opening his plant-based (vegetarian) restaurant Mesa Verde at 1919 Cliff Drive, the former home of Cliff’s & Co. Arnold tells me that breakfast starts at 7 a.m. and will include home-made pastries and French Press coffee. The lunch menu begins at 11 a.m. and will continue until close. Dinner runs from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. The restaurant will be open 7 days a week and will also offer beer and wine.

“It’s going to be 100% organic including all the juice, all the pastry, all the food, completely organic,” says Arnold. “The cuisine is Modern American style. There will be dinner dishes, and lunch dishes and a lot of shared plates. My cuisine doesn’t leave the Mediterranean but that’s all inclusive, like Libya, Morocco, south of France, Sicily, the whole Middle East (Syria, Lebanon), North African, Southern Spanish and southern Italian style cuisine.”

GREEN CUISINE: Chef Greg Arnold is bringing plant-based Mediterranean cuisine to the Mesa.



On Sunday, June 29th, Finch & Fork restaurant at Canary Hotel, 31 W. Carrillo Street, hosted its second-annual “Shuck ‘n Swallow” competition, sponsored by Santa Monica Seafood Company. Participants included Arlington Tavern, Blush, Brewhouse, Chuck’s Hideaway, Enterprise Fish Company, Finch & Fork, Hungry Cat, and Outpost at the Goodland. The team I was assigned to count, Brandon Worrell (head chef, “the shucker”) and Doug Fresh (line cook, “the swallower”) from Blush restaurant, 630 State Street, took top honors for the second year in a row with 109 oysters shucked and swallowed within 10 minutes.


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After intense concentration and a wave of my hand over the all-knowing crystal ball, my eatery oracle has revealed a list of locations appearing in your future:

  • 7-Eleven, 1936 State St.
  • Barbareño, 205 W. Canon Perdido St. (formerly D’Vine Café)
  • Benchmark Eatery, 1201 State St. (formerly Maggie’s, opening July)
  • Boochies, 113 W. De la Guerra St. (formerly Bella Dolce Bakery)
  • Dunkin’ Donuts, Santa Barbara (2 locations)
  • Farmer Boy Restaurant, 3427 State St. (remodeling under new ownership)
  • Himalaya Kitchen, 431 State St. (currently All India Café)
  • Los Agaves, 7024 Marketplace Dr., Goleta (currently New Baja Grill)
  • Lure Fish House, Upper State St.
  • Mesa Verde (vegan), 1919 Cliff Dr. (formerly Cliff’s & Co., opening July)
  • Natural Café, 6990 Marketplace Dr., Goleta (formerly Hallmark)
  • Nona’s Italian Deli, 415 E. De la Guerra St. (formerly Italian Grocery)
  • Outpost at The Goodland, 5650 Calle Real, Goleta
  • Papa John’s Pizza, 5756 Calle Real, Goleta
  • Patxi’s Pizza, 515 State St. (formerly Territory Ahead)
  • Rincon Brewery, 5065 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria
  • Shave It, Isla Vista (near Firehouse Subs)
  • Silvergreens, Goleta
  • Smart & Final Extra, 7000 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • Starbucks, 101 Milpas St.
  • Sublime, 901 N. Milpas St.
  • Subway, 1936 State St.
  • Taco Bell, Hollister Ave. at Pacific Oaks Rd., Goleta
  • Tino’s Italian Grocery, 210 W. Carrillo St. (formerly Carrow’s)
  • Tri Tip Company, 214 State St.
  • Yellow Belly, 2611 De la Vina St. (formerly TAP Thai Cuisine)


chef-haroldOn Fridays and Sundays Chef Harold of World Cuisine Express is now serving meals at Piano Gastrolounge, 126 East Anapamu Street. Friday features Harold’s Caribbean Kitchen, an on-going tour through the Islands and their individual cuisines. Sundays will be featuring Healthy Gut by Harold, appealing to anyone interested in a ‘clean’ gourmet meal – from Cross-Fit Paleo fans, to individuals with diabetes. This menu is coordinated with the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, where Welch conducts free cooking classes monthly.

This week’s Caribbean Kitchen is “Cubana Nights” and will have a special two-day run on Friday, June 27th and Saturday, June 28th. Starters: Fried Sweet Plantain with Rum & Ginger Yogurt Dip, Lobster & Crab Tamales wrapped in Banana Leaf, Island Empanadas, Veggie or Spicy Chicken. Main Dishes: Roasted Sofrito Game Hen, Roasted Leg of Pork with Spicy Mojo, Grilled Billfish (swordfish).

Harold Welch is Chef-Owner of World Cuisine Express, Inc., a healthy-food delivery service in Santa Barbara, and a full service catering company. Originally from Barbados, West Indies, Welch has come “through the ranks” in the restaurant industry. In Santa Barbara, he has worked at the San Ysidro Ranch, Citronelle, and La Cumbre Country Club. Welch always wanted to offer healthy food to fellow diabetics, and in 2005, he created World Cuisine Express for that purpose.



More than 2 years ago I wrote that an eatery named Sublime is coming to 901 N. Milpas Street, also known as “The Building With The Cow.” Reader Karl tells me he recently saw construction crews at work inside.



The Tasty Group LLC plans to develop two Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in Santa Barbara and eight restaurants throughout Ventura County over the coming years, with the first restaurant expected to open in 2016. Previously there was just one Santa Barbara location in the works.

Founded in 1950, Dunkin’ Donuts has nearly 11,000 restaurants in 33 countries worldwide. Based in Canton, Mass., Dunkin’ Donuts is part of the Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. family of companies. For more information, visit